James Cameron himself has described Avatar: The Way of Water as a very bad business decision for a film studio, but it’s being made all the same. Cameron told GQ that the film was “very f**king expensive” to make, and it doesn’t make sense from a studio financing perspective.
Cameron told executive at Fox, which signed the film before Disney acquired the company’s film division, that The Way of Water represents the “worst business case in movie history.”
Why? Because in order for it to make a profit, the film will need to be the “third or fourth highest-grossing film in history,” Cameron said. “That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”
The Way of Water reportedly had a budget of $250 million, and if that’s true, it would be one of the most expensive films ever made. This is before marketing costs and other expenses are factored in.
The current third and fourth highest-grossing movies in history are Cameron’s own Titanic ($2.2 billion) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.069 billion).
The 2009 original Avatar is the highest-grossing movie in history, banking $2.92 billion. Cameron said that movie performed so well because it’s a “f**king gigantic adventure that’s an all-consuming emotional experience that leaves you wrung out by the end of movie.” He went on to say it was “groundbreaking visually” and still holds up today, more than a decade after its release.
Not everyone believed in the original Avatar at the time, however. Cameron said an executive at Fox back then watched a pre-release screening of the movie and petitioned Cameron for changes. But Cameron held his ground and Avatar ended up being the biggest box office smash in history.
“I said something I’ve never said to anybody else in the business,” Cameron said. ‘”I think this movie is going to make all the f**king money. And when it does, it’s going to be too late for you to love the film. The time for you to love the movie is today. So I’m not asking you to say something that you don’t feel, but just know that I will always know that no matter how complimentary you are about the movie in the future when it makes all the money’–and that’s exactly what I said, in caps, ALL THE MONEY, not some of the money, all the fucking money. I said, ‘You can’t come back to me and compliment the film or chum along and say, ‘Look what we did together.’ You won’t be able to do that.’ At that point, that particular studio executive flipped out and went bug sh** on me. And I told him to get the f**k out of my office. And that’s where it was left.”
Avatar: The Way of Water comes to theaters on December 16. Tickets are now on sale and a new trailer has arrived–watch it above.
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